My favorite time to visit the beach is in the off season, when it is nearly deserted. If I can get there before sunrise, all the better. But yesterday, the fog was super thick, so sunrise happened behind the curtains, diffusing the light on the beach in mid-morning like there was a giant softbox in the sky.
As part of the Delmarva Nature and Wildlife Photography Summit, one of the excursions I could choose was a trip to the beach at the NASA facility at Wallops Island. Jim, one of the staff at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, drove me and two others to the restricted area, where we had to show ID’s to get in. Because it is so devoid of visitors, especially in November, the beach is a sheller’s paradise. Whelks (they look like conchs), keyhole sand dollars, snails, clams, scallops, coral — all of it right there for the photographing (and, of course, some judicious collecting).
As a photographer, I am leery of taking my good camera (meaning my DSLR and a good lens) into such a sandy environment. I knew I would be doing a lot of bending and kneeling, so my camera choice was the one that I used every day for my daily photo walks: my Nikon P7700. (The Canon equivalent is the G15.) That camera does everything, and if you told me I could only have one camera for the rest of my life, that would be it. I especially wanted to use its amazing macro/close-up feature. And, alas, if I did happen to get too much sand into its mechanisms, it would be relatively inexpensive to replace.
The morning was amazing. The sun broke through from time to time, warming us as we walked the beach. The gulls and sanderlings were hanging around by the breaking waves. The beach was one of the widest I have even seen, and it was strewn with shells, horseshoe crab bodies, tangled piles of seaweed, washed up pieces of wood and coal, and some occasional trash (which I also collected).
I searched and searched for some sea glass, but that eluded me. I found a plethora of wonderful things to focus on close up. I could have spent hours there listening to the waves, enjoying the mild temperatures, and deciding on what to photograph next. But after three hours, it was time to leave and head for home.
Thank you, Delmarva Photo Summit, NASA, and to our guide Jim, for making a memorable morning for us on the beach. I could not have picked a better way to spend the time.
“Life Through My Lens” is a travel/photography blog written by Cam Miller, copyright 2013
Email: cam.miller@comcast. net